|JoJo Reed is a zydeco musician
from Eunice whose popularity has moved far beyond his home in Southwest Louisiana. Reed
has been playing and writing music since his high school years at St. Edmund's in Eunice,
where he graduated in 1989. The winter 2000 issue of The Jays' Quarterly, the
school's alumni newsletter, featured a story on JoJo describing his tour up the East Coast
and trips to other festivals around the country. He has become so popular in California
that he has a booking agent just for that state.
In the fall of 2002, JoJo headed back to California, and he was also busy promoting his new self-produced album, Still the Same Old Me. Most of the songs on the CD were written by JoJo, but he also does covers of "Jolie Blonde," "Motor Dude," "Uncle Bud," and "Hungry Man Love." On the CD, he captures the sounds of Zydeco from the days when Boozoo Chavis and Beau Jocque were at their peaks, attracting both you and old to are dance halls. JoJo says that when he plays a gig, he always tries to find songs that the audience likes. Still the Same Ole Me is aimed at long-time Zydeco fans who want to hear music that follows a beat that they have enjoyed dancing to over the years, but everyone is going to enjoy this band, which JoJo considers perhaps the best group of musicians he has worked with. "Big" Chris Ardoin is on bass; Troy Prudhomme on rhythm guitar; Bobby "BB" Broussard on lead guitar; Kyndrell Frank on rubboard and background vocals; and "Big" Jackie Frank on drums.
His 2000 album, Back on the Scene, released by Louisiana Hot Records in September 2000, offers a funky sound developed in collaboration with Keith Frank, who arranged, produced, engineered, and mixed the recording at his Soul Wood Studios.
The majority of the songs were also written in collaboration with Frank. The opening song, "Back on the Scene with a Brand New Thing," establishes the smooth, funky rhythm that runs through most of the songs. In "Still Got It Going On," JoJo alludes to the serious injuries he suffered in a traffic accident in 1998, telling everyone, "But y'all know that don't stop JoJo." Keith Frank plays guitar and joins JoJo with vocals on 'Is It Really Ever Over," a slow, mellow number. JoJo's "A Hard Head Makes a Soft Behind" is a good example of the playful, humor that has always been part of zydeco's appeal.
The CD includes George Lee on guitar, Jennifer Frank on bass, Brad Frank on drums, and James Ned and Kendrell Frank on rubboards.
Back on the Scene is dedicated to Alphonse Paul Ardoin, grandson of Bois Sec Ardoin and bass player with JoJo Reed until his death in June 1999 at the age of 21.
JoJo's other albums, which feature many songs he wrote himself, include Make 'em Jump!, Funky Zydeco, and Not Your Baby's Daddy, which came out in 1997 on Zydeco Hound Records, released by Acadiana Sounds Studio in Eunice.
In a couple of his songs, JoJo pays tribute to the late Boozoo Chavis and to the late John Delafose. Through his many original songs, JoJo Reed is making his own mark in zydeco, but he also knows the roots of zydeco, and his music is an extension of that tradition.
For more information, contact JoJo Reed, 430 Fruge St., Eunice, LA 70535; (337) 457-1989 or 457-7747.
|All photographs and text by David Simpson.|